The Kestrel or Windhover (Falco tinnunculus), Fig. 22, belongs to the Falconidae. The colour is reddish brown to fawn, with black or bluish-black bars or spots on the back, and the breast of a lighter hue of fawn or chestnut. The beak of the male is blue. The nest is built in high trees, commonly in old nests of crows or magpies, on high rocks or old towers; the female lays five eggs, about 1 in. long, mottled with reddish brown; the young birds appear about the beginning of May.

The Kestrel and Field Vole.

Fig. 22. - The Kestrel and Field Vole.

The kestrel is a beautiful and valuable bird, frequenting woods, groves, fields, parks, lowland and hill pastures, commons and moorlands, and may be identified by its habit of poising itself and hovering almost immovably over a certain spot, whence its popular name wind-hover. The food consists chiefly of field and red field voles, beetles, especially cockchafers and wireworm (larvae of click-beetles), and grasshoppers, and though charged with occasionally taking very young birds, the kestrel is perfectly innocuous to game and poultry, its food consisting almost exclusively of mice, grasshoppers, coleopterous insects and their larvae.